Stunning advantage OKC Thunder and Golden State Warriors can capitalize on

OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots over Golden State's Stephen Curry (30) on Oct. 26 at Paycom Center.jump
OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots over Golden State's Stephen Curry (30) on Oct. 26 at Paycom Center.jump /

Already this season the OKC Thunder has surpassed expectations by equaling their win total of last season.

Pundits and oddsmakers didn’t see it coming and now the Thunder are set to forge ahead and blow the minds of those same individuals with more games remaining (33) than what they were projected to register as wins!

As the Golden State Warriors roll into OKC and prepare to tip off T.I. dives into a stunning opportunity both clubs have — and one they can get a jump on with a victory this evening.

OKC Thunder and Golden State Warriors have most ‘games in hand’

Entering the match this evening the Warriors who weren’t active on Sunday benefited most from games played Sunday. They begin the week in one of the coveted ‘cemented’ playoff seeds having ascended to the sixth rung.

Yet, it’s not like the Dubs are safe in that position given the sardine-packed seeding ladder that finds the fourth through 11th teams separated by just two games. Take a gander at the list, that highlights win/loss margin followed by how many games each team trails the Western leading Nuggets:

  • 4th: Clippers (28-25), -7.5
  • 5th: Wolves (27-25), -8.0
  • 6th: Warriors (25-24), -8.5
  • 7th: Mavericks (26-25), -8.5
  • 8th: Pelicans (26-25), -8.5
  • 9th: Suns (26-25), -8.5
  • 10th: Jazz (26-26), -9.0
  • 11th: Thunder (24-25), -9.5

Now, let me draw your attention to win/loss records. Focus on how many games each team has already played. The Clippers have the most games in the books with 53, two teams have 52 (Wolves, Jazz), while a trio has 51 (Mavs, Pels, Suns).

What stands out is the OKC Thunder and Warriors have just 49 games banked. That’s two to four games this duo has on the other six where they can make up ground without a response!

Dive deeper into the upcoming schedule and when you land on the Thunder playing the Rockets three times in the next eight games, the Warriors twice, injury-hit Pelicans, and two other sub-.500 teams the results could be palpable.

Especially when you factor in the injuries to main contributors. Again, scan the list of teams above the Thunder noting how many clubs are currently playing without their star or starting contributor who has a significant role on their squad. Only the Kings, Warriors, and Jazz are as healthy as OKC and even with that group Domantas Sabonis is playing through a significant injury while the Warriors frequently rest their core four.

And for those who point out how the Clippers suddenly look relevant, I’ll point you to yesterday when despite being healthy and on a five-game winning streak they elected to rest both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George plus FIVE other regular contributors. Gee, why bother showing up when you’re just going to blatantly mail in a game like that and gift the Cavaliers?

Suffice to say, this evening’s match offers ample intrigue with a Warriors club that has a meager 6-18 road record. Granted, the Thunder won’t get the mail-in offering the Cavaliers got last week (yeah – the same team the Clippers helped) when Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond all sat for REST.

Then again, it’s a great litmus test for the Thunder to see how they measure up versus the Warriors.

The most intriguing matchup is clearly the Dubs backcourt of Curry and Thompson versus the Thunder backcourt of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. Adding fuel to the OKC Thunder motivation is the fact Steph got the nod over Shai to start in the All-Star Game even garnering the player and media votes ahead of SGA who ranked fourth in all three voting segments.

I’ll maintain my previous statement which cites Steph as one of the most supremely gifted and talented stars in the Association but the fact he missed 15 games of 49 while SGA missed only four feels wrong.

As a whole, the Warriors are also more talented than the Thunder. However, they aren’t necessarily as deep — or at least as used to having their bench unit deliver on the same scale as the Thunder Bench group does.

With that in mind, and Thunder Nation looks ahead to the schedule that will take OKC to the deadline one thing is certain.

This OKC Thunder team isn’t afraid of anyone and is poised to be the team within that parity pack that surprises everyone as the one that ascends instead of the usual suspects!

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